08 January 2019

Social Justice in Amos 5

About a year ago, the leadership of our church wanted to join a coalition of churches that work toward social justice  in our city. The results were not pretty. When the decision was announced, some folks left the church. Others essentially threatened to. The most vocal opponents refused to even hear from the organization -- they heard "social justice" and went into full-on rage mode. In the end, the elders decided to value peace within the church over their desire to make a practical, Christlike difference in the community.

This isn’t to say the elders’ plan was flawless. The national organization affiliated with this local justice coalition sometimes treats the Bible as a political football rather than the inspired word of God. Other churches within the coalition  have been pressured to place members in same-sex relationships into positions of leadership, which is something our church has convictions against. Our elders should have asked the congregation what they thought before moving forward so quickly.

Nonetheless, there is much to be said for pursuing a fair, equitable society through political action. In Amos 5, economic injustice is one of God’s chief complaints against his people:
7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness
   and cast righteousness to the ground.
8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
    who turns midnight into dawn
    and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
    and pours them out over the face of the land—
    the Lord is his name.
9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
    and brings the fortified city to ruin.
10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
    and detest the one who tells the truth...
14 Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
    maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
    on the remnant of Joseph.
God cares about how we treat those who cannot defend themselves. He cares when humans made in His image are victimized and taken advantage of. And his wrath in this case falls on both individuals and the nation as a whole. This should cause American Christians to sober and consider what our society is doing to care for the needy, disadvantaged, and helpless in our midst and at our borders.

Unfortunately, I think the Republican party (the political party that "my" people have long affiliated themselves with) has a history of treating the nation like a piggy bank to be raided for the profit of those who are already wealthy. I fear they -- we -- will soon have a great deal of justified regret over these actions. May God have mercy on us all -- and may we repent soon.

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